How to Cut a Wainscoting Panel for an Outlet

What You'll Need
Wainscoting panels
Measuring tape
Marker, pencil
Chalk or paint
Utility knife

If you want to add a classic and architectural touch to your home, installing a wainscoting panel is the best choice. It beautifies the walls while saving precious time and money. Wainscoting panels can be installed in any interior space such as rooms, dining rooms, hallways, washrooms and offices. The installation procedure is simple and you can do it yourself. However, cutting holes in the wainscoting panels around the electric outlets and switches is a bit difficult. Measuring errors become common while marking the location of the outlet on the panels. Read the directions below to understand how to precisely cut the panels for the electric outlets. Carefully following the steps will ensure a perfect fit and finish.

Step 1 – Take Appropriate Precautions

You must take the necessary precautions while working with the wainscoting panels. Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from flying debris and dust. Use gloves to prevent cuts and bruises and wear a dust mask for filtering the air. Finally, since you will be working with electricity, turn off the power to the area you are working in and make sure you test the outlet before you start your work.

Step 2 – Measurements and Marking

It is important to ensure that you make accurate measurements. Start with measuring the length between the top edge of the electric outlet and the edge of the panel that is above the outlet. Mark this distance from the top of the panel and on the back face. Use the same method for the outlet’s left side. You must measure the distance from the last panel to the left edge of the outlet. Mark this distance on your panel. Next, measure the distance from the outlet’s bottom edge to the floor. The outlet must be measured as well. Use the marked distances to draw a rectangle or a square on the panel you will be using.

You can use another method for making the measurements. Use a chalk or paint to make an outline of the outlet’s perimeter. Next, place the panel against the outlet and press back so that the paint or chalk makes an imprint at the panel’s back. You must place the panel flat and exactly like when the panel will be installed. This imprint will let you know the exact location for the cutting. This method is simpler than the first one but it is less accurate as a slight shift in the panel’s position can result in an incorrect imprint.

Step 3 – Cutting Holes for the Outlets

Before starting the cuttings, verify your measurements once or twice. Use a jigsaw for cutting the panels. Thin panels can be cut easily where as for the thicker panels you must at first cut the panel lightly so as to form a guide line on the panel. Next, go along the guideline and cut deeper. Bend the cut area back and forth with your hands until it snaps. Now that you have cut the hole, check the fitting by placing the panel on the wall. The panel will fit perfectly if you have followed all the instructions carefully.